Select the right words. Say them well.


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Have you ever heard someone start their talk by using the above phrase? My suggestion is you should shout out, “Yea, you and everyone else we’ve heard talk today!” Cruel? Perhaps. But geez is there a more overused expression? Especially for someone who is coming in to present an idea to us or to get us to do something? As you might expect, there is a better way.

Like any “crutch” expression, it is a “go to” phrase for many of us because it is easy. It seems like it really means something when it is actually a hot air sandwich! Expressions like this are voiced because they fit so many situations – when they actually do not fit almost anywhere because the words mean so little.

As with any opening – the stuff you say in the first 30 seconds of a talk – it should be thought through, committed to memory and have something to really get the presentation moving. If those are the rules you live by you won’t find yourself mumbling anything like, “I’m excited to be here…” Instead you will zero in on something much more powerful and specific to the people who are looking at you. (You can indeed be ‘excited to be here’ but how else can you say it so you have a genuine connection with the audience?)

Options: Let’s say you are there to offer a new way for the audience to look at an old problem or you need to get this group to take a certain action? What if you have been working on this for a week – two weeks or even a month? It happens that way, right? Well, isn’t it far more powerful to say, “We have been thinking about this moment for the last two weeks and it is great to finally be here with you.”

Other options to “excited” communicate a specific knowledge of the audience. “We know you are concerned about the budget and that’s exactly what we’ve kept in mind as we prepared for today.” Or if you know there is resistance to the idea you can hit it directly. “We know not everyone is ready to embrace these ideas – heck, some of you might hate them – but we just ask that you hear us out for the next five minutes because we kept your concerns in mind when we put this talk together.”

As with any effective solution, it is more PERSONAL and takes MORE EFFORT. That’s exactly what should come to mind for you when you hear cliché’s being thrown around in any talk. You should immediately ask “What can we say that will be more meaningful for the people we need to connect with? How else can we say this? Isn’t there a more impactful way to get this across?” As soon as those questions are asked you are on your way to finding better words – and actually getting the result you are hoping for.

Please follow along through the month @CaryPfeffer

Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: